On this episode, Kelly chats with Lynne Rachal Chambers, A, and learns about the time she met founder Mary Williamson Hundley, A, and when she met Wilma Wilson Sharp, ZZ. Lynne also shares some history about Stubbs Hall at Longwood University and her experience as NPC Delegate.
Disclaimer: This transcript was developed with an automated transcription program, spelling and grammar errors may occur.
Welcome to the Alpha Connect Sisterhood Series podcast. I'm your host Kelly McGinnis Beck, national president. This podcast is all about sharing the stories of our members and our connection through Alpha Sigma Alpha. Thank you for joining us today. Welcome to the podcast, Lynne Chambers.
Thank you very much, Kelly. I'm looking forward to our conversation.
Me too. So I am going to dive right in and get started like I do with every guest. Tell us your Alpha Sigma Alpha story. When did you become a member? How did you become a member? Where did you become a member, all that fun stuff?
Well, mine is ancient history for most people, because I went to Longwood college. It was called, Longwood college back in the day in 1965. And we went in September, the middle of September was orientation for freshmen. And I never dreamed of joining a sorority, I was too interested in playing sports, and did not and had been in what we used to call a high school sorority, which was terrible hazing. And so I said, I'm done with that. I'm a, quote unquote, adult, and wasn't interested, but a member of the hockey team, the field hockey team that I played on, pursued me, so to speak. And our recruitment was not until November.
And right, and we, the sororities each had a room, which was thinking back on it a tiny room, not even all of the members of the sorority could get in the room, and here you are trying to recruit. So even though it was November, it was hot. That was the one thing you remember about recruitment. And I've talked to several people about that experience. And we all remember how hot it was. So we got the August experience in November. But I was, it was an exciting time, we had nine chapters on campus. And you really got to meet a lot of the upperclassmen because we had freshman dorms, and you didn't meet upperclassmen, the way you might now with a mixed dorm. It was a lot of fun. And I wanted to join every single one. They were all very different and unique in their own way. And I just was having a wonderful time meeting people because I'm a social animal, I love forming relationships, and AΣA pursued me so to speak. And that was why I leaned to them, because they seem to want me for me and was thrilled. I have to confess that I single, intentional preferenced and was fortunate enough to get a bid.
That's a big change from I want to join them all to I'm just gonna join this one.
Right! Well we we had two weeks of not every night, but instead of being confined to one weekend, it was stretched out over a two week period. And during that two weeks, it was fairly easy to narrow them all down. I think you know, the first night when you're for open house, you just have a wonderful time meeting everybody. And then you begin to narrow it down, you began to see who really wants to have a conversation with you who is interested in you as a person. So that red and white was my color. And it was a terrific experience.
So you, you went through recruitment in November. So then I assume you got initiated in the spring?
Right, March of 1966.
And did you recruit new members in the spring as well? Or was it just one single...
No, it was a one shot deal. Because we did not have quota total at the time.
Yeah. That was instituted my, I think my junior year. And so we had not had that and it was a really interesting time. I was fortunate enough, they built a Panhellenic dorm. And I moved in as the first group my sophomore year. And that was a terrific experience because we had probably I think there were six weeks at a chapter room and it was the first time that the sorority women had been able to live together, there were three sororities on each floor. And then the first floor was a mixed group. So if you were rooming wanted to room with a member of another chapter, you lived on the first floor. And we, we had a wonderful time, it was a terrific experience, because we were getting to choose the furniture for the chapter room. We were trying to get it decorated before November recruitment. And I can remember the rug came in three days before recruitment. And we got it down on the floor. And then we spent the whole time between parties cleaning up the fuzzballs for this. Because that many people moving on it, created fuzzballs. But it was it was a lot of fun. We did skits back then, of course. And so you had to plan your skits and your songs and all of that. It's different today. But we had a lot of fun.
It sounds like it. So you joined our Alpha chapter. What was it like to be one part of the Alpha chapter, but then also on a campus with three other Alpha chapters?
Well, we talk about the Farmville four, because it's, it really was I don't think we realized at the time when we were collegiates, how special that was. But there, the state of Virginia does have a large sign on the front of the campus to signify the four campuses. It's part of Virginia's historical markers. And that is a historical marker that the Farmville for were established at Longwood as the only college in the country to have four Alpha chapters. So we didn't really interact about that at the time, but being an Alpha chapter was drummed into us as part of our education, as we would call pledges back then not new members, and that was part of our education. We were not hazed in any way was a wonderful experience. We did raise money for a party. And what we did is we sold sample bottles of perfume. And we use part of that money for furniture for the new chapter room and part of it for party for the rest of the chapter at the end of our pledgeship. But we were told when we bought our pins that as Alpha chapter, we did not have the plain badge, we bought the pearl badge. Oh, that was unique at the time. It's not I don't think that tradition has continued. But at the time, they told us whether you're saving money because you're dangled for your recognizing your chapter. We only have to buy one letter. You can put the difference in the money into buying your pearl badge. And of course at the time, prices were very different.
So we were glad we all had the pearl badge as Alpha chapter
So is the dorm that they built the Panhellenic dorm, the same dorm that stands on campus today?
Yes. Stubbs dorm, which was named for the Kappa Delta advisor who had been there for years. And she was not just advisor to Kappa Delta. But she helped to develop the whole panhellenic system.
I didn't know that.
Yes, yes. And so that's why it's named for her. And that at the time was back campus. That was the farthest building on campus, and we thought it was a long way away. Now, of course, it's the middle of the campus because the campus has grown so much.
I was gonna say, I was like, I'm like, I think when I visited there, it seemed like it was right in the heart of everything.
Well, it is it is in the heart of everything. It has a gorgeous lawn in the front that has a lot of activities. When I was there, it was an all girls school. And they added the men and 1974 I believe it was things changed, because they had a course to build dorms for men, et cetera, et cetera. And the school has grown when I was there, it was less then 3000 And now it's close to 8000. So there have been a lot of changes.
Sounds like it. Well, I didn't I guess I forgot that Longwood had been an all women's school but didn't think that it was still an all women's school into the into the 60s.
Oh yes. Oh, yes. And that was one reason I chose love the idea of women being leaders. And we definitely were. And AΣA very proud to say was one of those that provided a lot of leaders for the campus. Last week, my senior year was President of Student Government. And so it was a fun time to be the the leaders.
Yeah, I bet. What a neat experience all the way around. It's interesting, I was just thinking about when I was at Zeta Tau Alpha's headquarters and going through their archive Historical Museum, and just seeing a lot of their history and the fact that they are also part of the Farmville four. And the clearly back in the night, early 1900s, late 1800s, you know, at that time period, everybody was related to everyone else. And so, you know, I'd love to just kind of sit and dive in at some point and see where those familial connections are between the four groups of ours, because I can't remember exactly who I saw. I don't know if it was a Hunley, or a Williamson, but it was somebody where I saw a name in the museum and I thought, oh, my gosh, like there has to be a relation to one of our founders.
Oh, absolutely. I'm sure there is. I haven't investigated that either. But I have a very good desire to tell our friends. So I'll have to see if the two of us can come up with dimension.
Yeah, I had talked to their historian or archivists, I can't remember her title. But she had been there the day that we had toured the museum. ZTA had hosted the international presidents meeting there. So we all got to tour it. And she was there and talked a little bit about their process, having, you know, put all the research in and whatnot. And I'd asked her and she had made the comment she didn't know exactly, but didn't know that there was definitely a lot of familial connections amongst that community. So we suspect that there are relations between all four of our groups, which would be really fun to dig into and get a better understanding around.
So, you saw I mentioned the founders. Right. And I understand that you met a founder. So I definitely want to hear all about that story.
Well, I was very blessed to when I was a collegian and I it was, I believe 1968 It was either 67-68 I got a letter because we didn't do phone calls back then. Nobody had their own phone. We had one phone for the whole hall of all three sororities. And I got a phone call from the lady in Richmond, inviting me to tea with one of the founders. The lady that invited me was Francis Francis, dear didi. And somehow she had gotten my name. And because I guess, because I was from Richmond, and invited me to tea here in Richmond, that summer. And there were several other collegians invited as well. Sure she invited from Beta Epsilon at James Madison, and Beta Iota at Radford. And I unfortunately, don't remember them at all. We did, we went to Morton's Tea Room, which is downtown Richmond was a famous tea room that no longer exists. But when we got there, there was Mary Williamson Hundley. And we all were just with our jaws hanging on the floor, I'm sure. I don't remember. I'm never asked that next to her. I have no idea what I ate for that day. All I could do was just stare at her and I know nothing back now How rude. I must have been but I just could not believe that. I was talking to one of the founders that had seemed like ancient history, and it wasn't. And because when you realize how young they were when they founded the sorority, she was probably in her late 70s, early 80s at the time which, as I approach that age, is not that old.
Oh, no, it's not. And did you know she was going to be at the tea?
No, we had no clue. And we thought we were meeting with Didi. And we were excited about that. And because, you know, here was an alumna who was interested in having tea with us, and they're there she was, we were just, I think just flabbergasted that she was A, still alive. And B, was having tea with us. And we were carrying on this lovely conversation, because she asked about each of us, you know, what we were studying and tell us about your sorority experience. And we wanted to grill her or tell us about your sorority experience. And she, it was just ordinary to her, for them to have gotten together. And I know, we didn't ask enough questions, because I don't have a lot of distinct memories of what she said. I just remember how wonderful it was to have that experience.
I can imagine. I mean, that's just it's, it's amazing to think about the ability to sit down and just hear from them. And yeah, I can imagine you walk away going, Oh, my should ask a million other questions that I hadn't thought of.
Exactly. Well, and I think it's what a lot of our alums think about those of us who met Wilma Wilson shot, and what a wonderful experience that was. And we didn't ask enough questions, we didn't take advantage of the opportunities like we should have. And that's why I think it's so important for us to for our alumnae and our collegians to interact today, because someday they're going to wish they had asked the questions that we wish we had asked.
Yeah, well, tell me a little bit about meeting Wilma Wilson Sharp.
Well, that happened in 1970. When I graduated, I had kept in touch with DD and when I graduated, she invited me to the alumnae chapter meeting here in Richmond, and I went a lovely group of women, all ages. At the time, we only had three chapters in Virginia, but we had a very mixed group. And it was just a lot of fun. And I can remember, in the fall, they were talking about going to the convention was going to be in Virginia Beach and would never be this close again. And we needed to take the opportunity to go. And then in the spring when they said we needed to appoint a delegate, nobody could go. So I piped up and said, I can go, I said wonderful, you can go. So they pay the registration fee. And then I as the delegate, of course, I got the package. And I can remember my husband only had one car at the time and my husband drove me down and dropped me off at the Cavalier in Virginia Beach. And I was kind of overwhelmed at first because I'd never been to a large convention. And I got through the first day and when the second day I went to get on the elevator in the lobby, and the door opened and there was Wilma Wilson Sharp with Maryann.
You would have been president at that time?
Right. Why exactly here is the national president and the president emeritus. I just stood and stared and Mrs. Sharp said, Would you like to join us on the elevator? I just I know I'm stammered. Yes. And got me in the elevator with them. But I just was so overwhelmed with here's and she couldn't have been nicer. She couldn't have been sweeter. And they both were just lovely to me, I guess because I still look like a kid. Because I was, you know, one year out of college, and just, it was just a an overwhelming experience. I know. I must not have said three words to her. But as the convention went on, I got braver and was able to talk to her. But that she was a lovely person and not this person up on a pedestal and we just had and so in the conventions that followed, I just thoroughly enjoy being able to speak to her and she remembered me and that was to me. Very impressive.
I think that's an important component, right when some, like, the connection and when someone remembers you, and especially when you're in awe of them, and you've forgotten everything that you've ever wanted to say, and they still remember you from that experience.
Yeah, very. To me, that's what the relationships are all about in sorority is it making those connections and the national president such as you doesn't hold herself apart from the group, she's, you know, she's a sister just like everybody else.
You know, it's just a wonderful experience. And that's why I really think it's important that we interact with our collegians. And let them know, it's not just four years, it's for life. And it can be just as wonderful and experiences those four collegiate years.
I think that's so important that they see that because for me, I saw that when I went to my first convention as a collegian in 1996, and seeing everyone there, and you know, that really connected it, not that I didn't already understand that, because Paula Foreman was my chapter advisor. So I understood that, you know, you get involved, but she was one person. And so going to convention and seeing everybody there, Deedee, and Joan and Betty and Barney and you and everyone else, you know, really kind of helped frame for me that there's more to this than the few years that you're on your college campus. That's really where your membership starts. But it really blossoms as you grow. And you as you get older, because as the more you stay involved in the relationships and the connections you make and the opportunities that you have, especially to give back and whatnot, I think just for me really was kind of what, what made me really understand the magnitude of the organization I had joined.
And so it sounds like and I know that this is probably true for a number of our alumni, too. Part of your opportunity to stay involved was because Deedee had reached out and connected with you.
Absolutely, absolutely. And I think it's just so important to try to make that happen. And when I served as an advisor, that was one thing I guess I quote unquote, lectured on was the fact that there are so many sisters that are we're similar, but we're different. And we come in all ages, all physical descriptions, and yet we're all still connected. Because we all took the same vows and initiation and how exciting that is, whether you did it as a collegian or as an alumna initiate and you can't tell the difference you can pick out who went through formal recruitment or informal recruitment, who was initiated their freshman year he was initiated their junior year, who was initiated as an alumna. And it's just we've all got the same connection. And we need to continue to reach out to each other. There share that connection.
Absolutely. And I think that's, you know, it's interesting as you get older, age becomes less important and all of those other things, and it's more about your experiences. But certainly when you're young, that's a very different mindset. Because there are some important things that happen as you get through different ages and milestones. But I feel like once you get past, I don't know what that magic age is. But like once you get out of college, and like you're into your 20s and 30s. I'm like, You know what, I have no idea how old people are. It doesn't matter. It's more about the connection in the relationship. And it is about, Oh, you're 10 years older than me, you're 20 years older than me or five years younger than me somewhere as you age that all blends together and doesn't matter.
There was something else I was going to ask you. And now it's totally slipped my mind as I was listening to you share your stories. I know what it was. So I'm sure you know DeeDee got you involved into the Richmond Alumnae Chapter and that probably led you to volunteer in a number of capacities. But tell me a little bit more about your path to serving as our NPC delegates.
Well, that was that was an experience that was totally unexpected. I can remember as an advisor, I took a group to a school in Pennsylvania and I have no idea what school it was for an LDI one summer and as we we were fortunate enough to have seen Suzanne kilgannon, who was national president at the time, meet with us. And she and I were walking to lunch one day, and she said, Have you ever thought about serving on the NPC delegation? And that just came out of nowhere to me? And I said, No, I haven't considered. She said, Well, what do you say? And I said, Well, I served on Panhellenic in college, because at the time, we were rotating through the offices, when I was first vice president, which at the time Alpha Sigma Alpha had the first vice president as the Panhellenic delegate. And our rotation went through and I was serving the office as treasurer. And at the time, that was when we instituted the quota total recruitment system.
So there were a lot of changes. And I had been very involved in Panhellenic. And no, I did like to working with all the groups. And so I said, Well, I got to think about this. What does that mean? And you know, tell me, I've seen the Panhellenic delegation at convention, but I don't really understand how it all works. So we had a long conversation that day. And I told her, I'd have to think about, because that, to me, was a big responsibility, the Diane James, which are the NPC delegate at the time. And she, she said, Well, think about it, but also this fall, the NPC is going to be meeting in Norfolk, which is not that far from Richmond. And she said, Just drive down for the day and see what it's like. And I said, okay, and I had the wonderful opportunity of seeing Sydney, once again, and she was our second, our first alternate delegate, and she had chosen to retire. And Sydney for those who don't remember was our first chairman, first Alpha Sigma Alpha to serve as Chairman of the NPC in the mid 80s. So this was the late 90s. And she was, had decided to retire and so I would be replacing her and that was pretty daunting to step into Sydney Allen's shoes, even as an alternate. That was just a little overwhelming to me. But I did go to Norfolk, and that was the year that NPC introduced their program related to anti hazing and the
Is that something of value? Yes, I remember when that came out.
Right. And they did a court case, it did reenacted a court case and all in front of us. And I was just blown away by what this program was. And of course, I was a little intimidated also by these, these women, these leaders, and what they were doing, it was just amazing to me, because I really didn't understand how NPC works and how the 26 groups work together to make these things happen, and I was just very excited at the possibility of being a part of that. So I did get back in touch with Suzanne and said, Yeah, give it a try. That's how it all happened. And convention the next summer we honored that was the I can't remember now where the convention was to be honest. But we did honor Sydney as she retired off the delegation. And then after convention, came on, and served under Diane, for a couple of years and learned how all that worked before I moved up to being delegate myself.
That must have been if Suzanne asked you she was president, she came on in 96 because that was my first convention. And that was in Saddle Brook, Florida and then or Tampa, Florida, I should say at the saddlebrook resort, and then the next one would have been Dallas. No 98 was yeah, no. Yeah, yeah, it was Dallas because I was a consultant and that was I don't remember much of that convention because I was a consultant and I was working it.
I remember that convention because My collegiate chapter that I was advising happened to win the top chapter award. So that was a pretty exciting convention and it was only convention that my husband ever attended.
Oh, you're kidding. How about that? And that was the one that you think we honored Sydney out as well?
Okay. I remember meeting her. And I remember at our centennial convention, we did a couple of skits about our history. And I got to play her in Sue was Wilma Wilson sharp?
Oh, of course she was.
So I have this picture of Sue and I from this skit, and I remember that because Sidney always used to tell the story about how Wilma came to her and said, you know, we, we expect great things of you. And that was like the scene that we had had played out on stage. That's what I remember about that. And being just tickled to be able to honor Sydney in that way, I
would love to see that picture sometime. 2000 convention is kind of a blur for me as well, because as the local Richmond area, I was the errand runner. Ah, I was given tasks, you know, because you know, where to go to get this. And we need that. And that, so Richmond is kind of a blur.
Well, I have to dig it out and bring it with me this summer to Baltimore.
That would be fabulous. I would love to see that.
Yeah, that's that's what I recommend. And that's what I've met, remember. And every time I see that picture, I think about that as well.
That's great. Oh, it was very, Sidney's shoes were pretty big to fail. But I think we have, you know, good NPC delegates to fill that.
I agree. Definitely. And certainly, you know, you are one of them. So thank you for all that.
It was a wonderful experience, because you really got to know other organizations and learn their traditions and what was important to them. And I learned a lot on their philanthropies. It was just a really terrific experience. And some of my best friends now. We call each other sisters have another badge. And we get together and you know, we communicate. And that my last social event before the shutdown of the pigs pandemic was lunch with an AST, the member of the AST delegation and Cindy Ryan. So
how fun. Yes, the as so we also meet as presidents all 26 of us. So we've created the friendship across badges, nicknames, so we call ourselves the fabs, which always sounds funny, I always want to say like something more than that, but that's if you see if you see any of us posts with F A, B, that's that's the whole meaning behind.
No, I understand that.
Yes. But same thing, you know, I've made a number of really close friends through that that relationship, and certainly all of the craziness we've been through for the last four years, pandemic and everything else. But it is great to see that, you know, even though we all have, you know, some different experiences in our sororities, we also all have similar experiences, and that unites us together to really want to further this experience the sorority experience for for future women.
So yeah, well, Lynne, this has been so much fun. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.
Oh, it has been fun. You brought back some really great memories, things I haven't thought about for a while. And that's been a lot of fun. You've also taxed my memory.
You're gonna hang up from here, and you'd be like, Oh, I remember this and that.
Yeah, well, I bombard Jesus summer when we are able to get together. I'll say, I should have talked about well do
please do I want to hear all the stories and, you know, to the members that are listening, if they come to convention? I hope they seek you out to hear those stories as well.
Well, I hope they will. Because I think if we don't tell our stories, they die. And I hope to see some of these experiences loss because they are good memories and we've lost some very special people since our last in person convention and that's going to be a difficult time is remembering those women that will be missing.
I know it's going to the memorial service is really going to be tough thinking about all of those folks. I've got pictures from our last in person convention. I think it was the last one. Maybe it was Since the last one I can't remember with DD and Gene and you know, yeah, sorry to hear, you know, if they're passing and Betty Wallach and so many others it is going to be a tough one. And it's one of those where I'm like, shoot, if I if I would have gotten my podcast started sooner, maybe I would have captured some of their memories too. So I think that's been one of the other fun parts about this experience is, you know, getting to capture folks memories like yours. And I know headquarters is saving them in our archives. So how cool will that be for future members to go back and listen and get to hear some of these stories?
All right. Otherwise, I don't know that we're all girls school. Yeah.
Well, it's it's different. It's a different world that we live in. And there are still some all women schools, but very few as of this point,
that a dying breed that it
is, well, Lynne, thanks for sharing your stories and spending the time with me this afternoon, or this morning. Of course, when folks listen to this, it could be morning, afternoon, evening, who knows
why, but it's been a wonderful opportunity, Kelly, and I thank you for that.
Well, thank you and to our listeners. Until next time,
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